Top positive review
346 people found this helpful
Finally, a does-it-all grinder for under $300!
on April 6, 2012
*** Final Update***
I have now been using this grinder for close to 2 years. I have also purchased a Vario-W in order to grind by weight as I thought that would help with my consistency while making espresso; however, I will be honest, I now use the Vario for Drip and Press and use the Encore exclusively for espresso. I'm sure the Vario would work just as well (probably better) but I have found the right setting, tamp pressure, etc that makes the coffee I like using the Encore, so why mess with a good thing? I mention that for the benifit of those thinking this might not be a good espresso grinder. While I am aware that there are other pro-sumer models available, this one has been great. It does not have a large range of usable settings for espresso, but with varying tamp pressure, you should be able to get what you are looking for. A quick story about Baratza's customer support: a few months ago I noticed that my grind was suddenly too course and my shots were flowing way to fast. Since the grinder was well outside of its one-year warrany, I took it apart and found that the insides had been severely damaged. I had just moved form Washington State to Alabama and I am sure the damage was due to the poor packing and handling my goods received from our movers. (A story for another day). Anyway, as I mentioned somewhere below in one of my earlier reviews, Baratza sells pieces to replace your grinder should you need them. I needed a new ring assembly that holds the actual grinder teeth in place (consisting of several pieces) and even a new internal housing to remount the motor as some of the mounts had been broken (probably from the movers throwing my things). I was surprised to see everyting I needed was actually available to the consumer on their website - no annoying calls to convince someone to sell me those pieces. While I was at it, I decided I would also replace some other pieces that I figured wouldn't hurt - all in all I was looking at around $30 to rebuild my grinder like new. I was pretty excited about the prices. I emailed Baratza and told them my story and asked if they had any guides or schematics to help me in the rebuild. Within a day, I recieved a reply from Baratza and they told me I shouldn't have such an extensive failure with my unit in such a short time of owning it and they told me they had canceled my order and were shipping me a NEW grinder - and to please return the broken one in the box along with a prepaid shipping label they provided!!! I wrote back and explained that my grinder was no longer under warranty and the damages were due to mishandling: not a manufacturing defect - I thought someone had misunderstood me. They wrote back and said they were sorry my grinder was broken by the movers and they were happy to replace it! I couldn't believe it - they sent me another grinder with no payment from me and simply trusted me to return the broken one. When I got the new grinder I noticed the grind settings were different from the earlier one - I had read they tuend it up for better espresso performance and they did - before I was unable to "choke" my Quickmill Silvano - now if I use a setting below 6, it chokes up. I find settings 6-8 work the best for espresso, 18-24 for drip/pour-over and 30-35 for French Press. Of course, that is all highly subjective and your mileage may vary, but if you are new to the Encore, perhaps that will give you a "ballpark" to work with. Anyway, since that day about 5 months ago, I've continued using my Encore and am very pleased with it. I highly recommend it for its performance, simplicity (sometimes simple is better) and the customer support the Baratza team provided.
*** 1 Year Update***
I have been using this grinder multiple times per day for a year now and so far I have NO problems to report. It still grinds just as well as it did on day one, the burrs are still sharp and I still love this grinder. I have no doubt I made the right purchase and I am glad I didn't opt for the "fancy" lcd models with the automated grind features; to me all those extra bells & whistles = more that could break. If I were to upgrade, it would be for a unit in another "class"; perhaps the Vario, but that is several $100 more and I don't see any reason to do so at this time. I will add that there is a 1 star review on this site that complains about larger beans not feeding through the hopper. Initially, I thought it sounded silly; however, not long ago, I roasted a batch of beans much darker than usual (VERY VERY dark roast), resulting in the beans being about 1 1/2 times their usual size. While grinding, I noticed that about 4 beans got lodged between the hopper and burrs. I tapped the side of the unit a few times and the final beans fed through the hopper. I had this happen two or three times. So, I suppose if you habitually use a bean that is much larger than your typical coffee bean, you might have an issue. Just search through the 1 star reviews for more details (at the time of this update, there was only one 1 star review).
Summary: fantastic grinder for an excellent price makes this a best buy in my book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a serious coffee drinker.
I've been using this grinder daily for almost 4 months, grinding enough for about 12 cups each day (maybe more on weekends). I usually use it early morning, afternoon and evening. I grind mainly for drip and espresso, occasionally for French press or pour-over. I still have no complaints with this grinder: I believe I made the right choice between this and fancier LCD options. I've ground for a 12 cup pot on numerous occasions when company comes over, and it never overheats or bogs or slows down- I don't think it notices if you're grinding for 1 cup or 12! Everything is solid and the burrs are still sharp as ever. Once a month I disassemble it to give it a good cleaning. It doesn't seem to retain much grinds in the chamber. My only gripe is the static build up after grinding can make a mess when you pull out the grind chamber: there are enough grinds clinging to the exit chute to scatter on the counter if you're not careful (to be fair, this is a common problem plaguing all burr grinders). But really I don't even notice that anymore, after a couple weeks you develop your own routine on how to deal with it and it ceases being an issue. I tend to grind, prep the coffee pot/filter to give the static time to discharge, then I give it a solid knock or two on the side and front before taking out the chute (thankfully this is a VERY solid grinder). It might sound tedious, but I actually had to sit here and think about it because it's simply second nature now and I don't even notice doing it. The only time I notice the problem is when someone else uses the grinder who isn't aware of the "technique".
Another great feature is that baratza sells every piece imaginable should you ever have a problem in the future: right down to a new motor or exterior knobs! All the pieces seemed priced appropriately. So while this may not be important to some, I like knowing that should the need arise, my equipment is completely serviceable. So I guess when the day comes that I need new burrs, I won't be shopping for another grinder, but paying a small sum for a new set of burrs. I didn't find that option on many of the other units I shopped around for. Ultimately, I still completely recommend this grinder and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants quality, affordability and versatility all rolled into a single package!
I've been looking for a grinder that I could use with my current espresso machine (pressurized portafilter), drip coffee pot, and french press and would also allow me to grow into a more expensive espresso machine (i.e. the Rancilio Silvia or Quickmill Silvano). I was looking at the Rocky grinder, the Baratza Vario and Virtuoso Preciso, the Breville Smart Grinder, et al. Then I came along the Encore which I believe is new for 2012. I read several "professional" reviews and even saw some video reviews where the Encore was able to "choke" the Silvia at around grind setting "6". If you aren't aware, the Maestro and Maestro Plus (which the Encore replaces) weren't able to grind fine enough to choke the Silvia straight from the factory. Although this grinder isn't "stepless" (you have a larger variance from one "click" to the next when adjusting the grind setting, you still get 40 settings which are plenty for any home grinder. With a little tamping technique, this grinder will work fine for any espresso machine - not my opinion - the "pros" opinion. I am currently using it with my pressurized espresso machine, my drip pot and the occasional pour over and french press. It works great for them all! While it doesn't perform as well (or so I've read) as the Preciso or other high-end grinders, the fact that you can even begin to compare them speaks volumes for Baratza. I believe that currently there is NO other grinder on the market that can stand next to this one in terms of quality & versatility within the price range. Maybe the Breville Smart Grinder, but it still costs 50% more, I don't like the LCD display and I've heard (no practical experience) from several sources that Breville customer service is not quite up to par. If any of you out there care, the Baratza Maestro and Maestro Plus were already popular grinders and Baratza completely over-hauled it and produced the Encore - it offers WAY more at the same price. I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm selling the Baratza name, but this is the first of their products I've owned - I'm just impressed they did this with the Encore. So often a company produces a 2nd iteration of a product with lesser features or cheaper quality parts. Check it out for yourself, the innards are improved for better durability along with the burrs for a more consistent and fine grind! WOW...who does that?!
Oh, and the first time I used it my wife was in the other room (separated by an open doorway) and she was shocked to find I had used it without her hearing it! Maybe when I close the door and begin my 5am grinding I won't wake the kids!
The only con (which I've heard is not an uncommon problem with this type of grinder) is that when I remove the grind container and IF I accidentally knock the grinder, leftover grinds can fall from the chute onto the counter. I have a Dustbuster within arms reach of the grinder so it's no big deal, but if I didn't, it might aggravate me.
I'm so glad I bought this and not one of the other many many brands I researched for months. I completely recommend it.